Most people are aware of the things you should do when you are trying to get pregnant; however, there are also a few things you should NOT do while you are trying to conceive. Your doctor or midwife will give you more details, but you will want to avoid these things that you usually do at home. Common activities like using lubricants and eating certain kinds of fish can greatly hamper your chances of getting pregnant.
Things to Avoid While Trying to Conceive
If you are using any kind of lubricant, stop using them while you are trying to conceive. Although these substances can enhance your pleasure, lubricants can actually work against conception. First, any lubricant will slow the motility of the sperm making it harder for them to actually reach the cervix. Since the sperm will spend more time in the vagina, the natural acidity of the vagina will begin to kill the sperm that are trapped in lubricant there. Sperm must reach the alkaline cervical mucus to have a chance at moving toward the egg. Artificial lubricants like mineral oil and egg whites are also risky. Instead of lubricants, try a little more time for foreplay and a little warm water for lubrication.
While a moderate amount of caffeine should not have any effect on your ability to conceive, some studies suggest a connection between infertility and consumption of large amounts of caffeine. You should not consume more than 200 mg of caffeine. This includes caffeine from all sources including coffee, tea, chocolate, most soft drinks, and almost all energy drinks. One or two cups of coffee each day should have little effect on your ability to conceive, but it is important to read labels to know how much caffeine you are taking in from other sources. If you are a habitual soda drinker, be aware that you may need to switch to a drink that does NOT contain caffeine. When you conceive and become pregnant, your healthcare provider will undoubtedly want you to cut back on caffeine.
Again, during the months before conception is a great time to begin to practice healthy lifestyles for pregnancy. The effects of alcohol on the developing fetus are very well documented and it is generally believed that even small amounts of alcohol can reduce your chances of conception, especially if you drink after ovulation. Drinking alcohol moderately can make you more prone to miscarriage. Excessive alcohol consumption is never a good idea – and should absolutely be avoided after conception. Besides the mother-to-be, it is also important for your partner to quit alcohol if you are trying to have a baby.
The evidence on smoking is also pretty clear. Smoking anything results in lower sperm count – this includes tobacco or marijuana. The lower sperm count does decrease your chances of conceiving. In addition, it is important to be as healthy as possible as you try to conceive and the documented effects of smoking on your general health make this a great time to stop smoking.
5. Certain Chemicals
There are many household cleaners that you should avoid while you are trying to get pregnant – and after you conceive! Instead, read the labels and select products that do not contain these chemicals.
- Fragrances contain phthalates that cause the good smells to bind to your sheets and clothing
- Oil based surfactants in laundry detergents contain alkyl phenoxy ethoxylates (APE)
- Solvents such as are in surface cleaners and carpet cleaners contain EGBE that can be readily absorbed by the skin
6. Fish High in Mercury
This is a tough one. You and your baby both need the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish but you also want to avoid the mercury that may be in some fish you eat. The trick is to avoid those fish that are known to be high in mercury and substitute those that are low. Avoid shark, tilefish, mackerel and swordfish. Others may include sea bass, marlin, bluefish and striped bass.
Fish that contain low mercury and high Omega-3 fatty acids include anchovies, chub, rainbow trout, salmon, whitefish, shad, and sardines. While you are trying to conceive, and when you get pregnant, eat these fish instead of the four to avoid.
7. Certain Medications
If you are taking ANY medications, talk to your healthcare provider about which ones you must absolutely continue taking and which ones you can stop while you are trying to conceive. Some medications may be harmful to a developing fetus and others may actually inhibit conception. Many of the over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for pain may make the lining of your uterus less ready for implantation of a fertilized egg. Even if you do conceive, drugs containing ibuprofen may prevent the pregnancy. Other drugs such as antibiotics, antihypertensives, and anticoagulants should be evaluated by your doctor. While you should NEVER discontinue one of these drugs on your own, your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe a different, safer alternative.
Stress is one of the biggest factors to consider when you are trying to conceive. It seems that the harder you try to conceive, the less successful you will be – and this only creates more stress! There is actually very good evidence that shows that increased stress levels can make your hypothalamus release less of the hormones that cause ovulation to occur. If your ovaries do not release an egg, you will not be able to conceive. Every woman has times when ovulation is affected by stress, but it is important to control stress as much as possible when you are trying to conceive.
9. Hot Tubs
Extremes in temperature, particularly hot temperatures such as found in a hot tub, should be avoided when you are trying to conceive. Sperm are extremely sensitive to heat which is why a man’s testicles are on the outside of his body. As sperm develop, they can be damaged or destroyed by the heat in a hot tub. Sperm take time to develop so hot tubs should be avoided for three to four months before you want to try to conceive a baby. Other sources of heat like sauna and tight underwear can also harm the sperms.
On the other hand, a woman’s eggs are not vulnerable to changes in temperature so lounging in a hot tub before becoming pregnant should NOT affect her ability to conceive.
10. Vaginal Douche Products
If you are in the habit of using a vaginal douche for hygiene, you should be aware that during your efforts to conceive you should NOT use any kind of douche. The fragrances and some of the chemicals used in the production of a douche solution will change the pH of your vagina and may kill sperm. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine if there is any reason you should ever use a vaginal douche, but when you are trying to conceive is a good time to stop the practice.